Eight Days of Christmas: All Mine to Give (1957)

The year is 1856, and the Eunsons (Robert, portrayed by Cameron Mitchell, and Mamie, portrayed by Glynis Johns) have just arrived in America from Scotland. They’ve been invited to the small village of Eureka by Mamie’s uncle, whom they plan to live with.

Upon arrival in Eureka, though, the Eunsons are given bad news: Mamie’s uncle was killed recently in a house fire, and little survives of his cabin. Robert and Mamie, with some help from a gaggle of helpful, caring townspeople, are able to rebuild the house in time for the birth of their first son, Robert Jr. or “Robbie” (Rex Thompson). Robert the elder gets a job in the local logging industry, and things begin looking up.

Mamie and Robbie (Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)
Mamie and Robbie (Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)

Years pass, and Mamie gives birth to five more children: Jimmy (Stephen Wootton), Kirk (Butch Bernard), Anabelle (Patty McCormack), Elizabeth (Yolanda White) and Jane (Terry Ann Ross). Robert starts his own business building boats, and the family is very happy.

Tragedy strikes again, though, when Kirk contracts diptheria, with Robert Sr. soon succumbing to illness as well. Robbie must become the new head of the household, struggling along with his mother Mamie to keep the family afloat through periods of tragedy.

Allen Reisner directs 1957’s All Mine to Give. This 103-minute long family drama is based on a true story and was scripted by Dale and Katherine Eunson, from Dale’s Cosmopolitan Magazine article “The Day They Gave Babies Away.”

(Image via movieposters.ha.com)
(Image via movieposters.ha.com)

Let me begin by saying that my assumptions of this film were completely misguided. The poster used on the cover of the 4 Film Favorites: Classic Holiday Collection Vol. 2 set in which it appears features smiling children and the tagline “Six kids on a true and wonderful adventure!” Based on this cover art, I thought I was in for a snowy, cheerful and nostalgic film about kids being kids during the holiday season — like a saccharine and less-funny version of A Christmas Story, but with more siblings.

Boy, was I in for a rude awakening! Within the first five minutes of the film, we learn of the death of Mamie’s uncle, and despite a few periods of prosperity, things generally go downhill from there.

There is some humor to be had here, particularly in the film’s first half, but throughout most of its running time All Mine to Give is a real tearjerker. Just about everything bad that could happen to the family happens to them, and the performances are very effective, making the story even more heart-wrenching to watch.

I would recommend All Mine to Give, but only if you’re in the mood to shed some tears. It’s a great drama but you’ll definitely need a palate-cleanser (like this video of a puppy yawning… though if you love puppies as much as I do, that might just make you cry more) to improve your mood afterwards! The score: 4/5

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2 thoughts on “Eight Days of Christmas: All Mine to Give (1957)

  1. That deal with the ‘4 Film Favorites’ and its false advertising really made me laugh! I can just imagine the big wigs at Warners finding themselves in a bind when they could only scrounge up THREE classic holiday favorites, and were desperate to find a fourth. And just in case you’re not aware, that Spielberg comedy ‘Schindler’s List’ isn’t really all that funny.

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  2. Love this film but it is uber sad and when I’ve recommended it to friends I warn them of that fact.

    I first watched it, years ago on a late night movie. All I knew about it was that it starred Glynis Johns, whom I adored from The Court Jester and Mary Poppins and was anxious to see in something else. This being before the advent of the internet I had a sketchy summary to go on from the TV Guide and like you was expecting a far lighter experience but once I got caught up in the story I was fine with the darker tone. I snatched it up as soon as it came out on DVD and was bemused by the cover art which does misrepresent the content and I think could cause the unsuspecting who view it to judge the film negatively through no fault of the actual film.

    The film is jam packed with recognizable faces most of whom when I watched it as a kid I related to their TV personas, The Skipper, Grandma Walton, etc. but now after years of watching classic films I can appreciate them separate from those iconic characters. I have always had a soft spot for Reta Shaw, being a devoted fan of TV version of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, although it threw me a bit that she was such an ogre in this. But I loved her then and I still find her enormously entertaining.

    Rex Thompson does very well as Robbie, he had a good deal of gravity that I would have thought would have helped him segue into adult roles but he didn’t do much after this. Somebody who’s buried in the cast is Patty McCormick who had such a huge hit the year before this in The Bad Seed. The studios never were able to capitalize on that performance and she grew out of her distinctiveness, she still works in small roles but I usually don’t recognize her until the credits roll.

    As good as the supporting cast is it’s Glynis’ feistiness, Cameron Mitchell braggadocio that he uses to cover his fears and good heart and Rex’s quiet yet strong performance that make this such an enjoyable view.

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